W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > April 2012

Re: ACTION-686: Sniffing

From: Robin Berjon <robin@berjon.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2012 14:44:04 +0200
Cc: "www-tag@w3.org List" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-Id: <FDE04B2D-A585-483D-9297-E47542199257@berjon.com>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
On Apr 26, 2012, at 13:53 , Larry Masinter wrote:
> Robin, we had an open issue about stable references, under the banner of the question of whether updates to normative references automatically apply.
> I tend to agree that this is best resolved as process issue, and want to officially hand it off to the w3c group responsible for the w3c process.

Right, but my understanding was that the AB was already on this as part of its investigation of how standards are done in W3C (this is just a branch of the "living standards" discussion). They're planning to discuss it extensively during the AC meeting.

> I'm sorry it wasnt clear that this was not just about this one incident.... there are persistent questions about references to specs, not only from w3c recs but also from registries.... for example, does the text/html media type registration require an update at all?

Absent the ability to upgrade the whole Web at once, I would expect that the only forward compatible strategy for text/html is to point to "whatever HTML is today". Ideally that would be maintained by W3C as an undated URI, e.g. http://www.w3.org/TR/html/ (which unfortunately points to XHTML 1.0e2). Pragmatically, it's the only option that doesn't make the text/html registry lie.

> If we use undated URIs instead of dated, named references in a technical specification, what are the persistence requirements, how do we account for meaning in such a world?

The persistence requirements are that you trust whoever operates that URI not to put something stupid there. That will fail sometimes, but I don't know of a way of preventing people from being stupid.

Since you bring up accounting for meaning, I suspect that you're thinking at least in part of the long-term archival issue. If it's just for today, we don't need meaning so much as we need sufficiently consistent interpretation.

For long-term archival, i.e. to ensure that an HTML 2.0 document is understood in 2319, I don't think that fixed, stable, dated, cast-in-stone documents and links between them are the way to go. The way to go is fostering a culture of backwards compatibility and progressive enhancement that can live on an adapt. Imagine von Neumann's theory of self-replcating automata, but for the standards ecosystem.

Robin Berjon - http://berjon.com/ - @robinberjon
Received on Thursday, 26 April 2012 12:44:34 UTC

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